Shane Southwell, Angel Rodriguez, Rodney McGruder

No. 13 K-State beats Cyclones, seizes control of Big 12 race


It’s been a great hoops season in the state of Kansas, with all three of the state’s DI teams battling for league titles and national rankings. But as of right now, there can be no debate. The best team in the Sunflower State is the Kansas State Wildcats.

K-State dumped a tough, rangy Iowa State team by a score of 79-70 on Saturday evening, moving to 8-2 in league play and sole possession of first place in the Big 12. Bruce Weber’s Wildcats are getting it done with Rodney McGruder’s star power and a solid supporting cast that makes ball control a way of life.

They’ll put those skills to the ultimate test on Monday, as they travel to Allen Fieldhouse and attempt to hand Kansas a fourth-straight loss, which would solidify K-State’s hold on the league lead in a very emphatic and regionally satisfying way. After Monday’s game, the Wildcats have six straight games against unranked foes before ending the season with a trip to current No. 22 Oklahoma State.

Kansas has won the last eight regular-season Big 12 titles, but Kansas State’s well-timed victory over Iowa State, and a chance to sit in the driver’s seat in the league race means more than just local bragging rights. K-State has never won the Big 12. In fact, the last time they won a league title was in 1977, when it was still the Big 8.

The Wildcats can stay on track against a very vulnerable KU team on Monday by doing exactly what they did against Iowa State. K-State shot 50 percent overall as well as 50 percent from behind the arc. Four players – McGruder (22), Angel Rodriguez (20), Thomas Gipson (16) and Martavious Irving (10) – scored in double figures, and the team as a whole shot over 80 percent from the line.

The sudden change from Frank Martin to Bruce Weber was jarring for K-State fans. Eight years of watching in-state rival Kansas win the league title was frustrating, and the long, long time without a title of any kind has to be downright galling.

All of that can be washed away. The Wildcats have rarely had a better chance than they do right now.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.